Sunday, November 08, 2015

One Of The Major Problems With Social Constructionism... that it is so politically-motivated. The belief that things like race and "gender"--and often everything else up to and including reality itself--are "socially constructed" is held with the fervor normally associated with political orthodoxy or religious dogma. Advocates of the view often seem to believe that rejection of it is tantamount to racism. The view owes its popularity to these sentiments--certainly not to any empirical evidence, nor the the logical acuity of its arguments.
   There are straightforward logical and philosophical errors in the arguments for the view, to be sure. Confusing words with their objects, for example. Combine a cluster of simple but confusing errors with a quasi-religious zealotry and you get a kind of cult of social construction.
   Ugh. Tool late to get all worked up over this nonsense...I'm going to hit the sack.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

OK, here's a challenge: you define race as applied to humans. It actually is pretty artificial, as it throws Bushmen and Nubians into the same bucket, but throws Indians and European whites into different ones. Yet Indians and white are much more closely related.

I agree that the Wikipedia article is terrible, but that is at least to some extent because race is not an easy thing to define well.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Maybe I can't. Maybe no one can. *Maybe it isn't even real*... But we'll never know if we simply trip all over ourselves to run into the arms of a barely-coherent alternative because it's politically correct and--to many--emotionally comforting.

It's a big topic, but here's a start: if you take facts about genetic differences in humans and ask a computer to group them by similarities, five groups apparently fall out: whites (Caucasians, Europeans, WTF ever you want to call them), blacks, Asians, American Indians and Australian Aborigines. It maps well enough onto our unscientific hunches about the grouping. The differences are multifarious and overlapping, and they don't matter a lot.

As I've often said: race is real, but not very important.

Or as we might say: it's real...but not *very* real.

The stuff about different historical conceptions of race is probably not relevant... Though I could be wrong. "The word 'race' has been used to mean different things, therefore race is socially constructed" is as confused as "the word 'fish' has been used to mean different things, therefore fish are socially constructed." For one thing, no serious conversation can be had if it includes the disastrously unclear phrase 'socially constructed.' For another, this seems to be a simple confusion of words and things. Words changing meaning doesn't mean anything about the nature of the objects that are the referents or that are in the extension of that term.

Undoubtedly there are things I'm missing here...but there's no doubt that there are a LOT of mistakes floating around on the other side.

Again, the most significant of which is: this is liberal Lysenkoism. This stuff is about 60% politically motivated, and about 40% wrong on points.

6:08 AM  

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